Fall Fun At Little Cost

I love October, as it starts my favorite three months of the year: autumn weather, the beautiful transition from the final days of summer weather to the first days of winter, Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas! There is not a better ninety days in the calendar.

Unfortunately, over the past few decades, the consumerism that infected the Christmas season seems to have infused the month of October as well. When once upon a time, kids would make their own Halloween costumes, now they are purchased from stores and they are increasingly elaborate and even more increasingly expensive. Homes are decorated with hugely complex and costly animatronic Halloween decorations. I’ve even seen parents drive their kids around to trick or treat in golf carts.

One of the things that I loved about the autumn was that it was a time of the year when it was always easy to find ways to entertain myself. My friends felt the same way. We did not need expensive stores. We did not need anything but the items that we could find hanging around our houses in order to have a great time and to enjoy three solid months of festive camaraderie. Whether you are a child or an adult, you do not need to spend a lot of money to enjoy the spirit of the fall season, you just need a bit of energy and creativity. Here are a few ideas you should consider.

Make a Scarecrow

As a child in New England, I made a scarecrow every year. Mom would loan me a pair of old jeans, and a shirt that I would stuff with fallen leaves. I know other people who made their scarecrows with hay. We all carved pumpkins from a local pumpkin patch to make the head. My scarecrow would stay in the front yard until the pumpkin started to droop more than my parents would accept but every day I had him, I enjoyed the memory of making him. I still do.

Make a Halloween Costume

A store-bought costume might be exciting and it might be impressive, but it is not all that creative. My friends and I would plan our costumes for months before Halloween. Yes, we were very low-tech when we went out on October 31, but we could call the costumes our own. Pirates, ghosts, farmers, soldiers: we were the characters we impersonated in our daily games. The costumes did not cost a lot to create but they did become a part of us, much more so that than anything that a person can buy in a store can become a part of them.

Walk in the Woods

There is no better time of year to go for a walk in the woods. In most of America, the colors of the leaves are changing and the air is invigorating. I always found this time of year to be the best time to head out into the woods with a thermos full of a hot drink, a backpack with my lunch, and sometimes a book and a blanket. There is no greater solitude than an afternoon alone in the woods. Find a great location and just relax after a long hike. Then hike home. There will be little cost but a very satisfying glow on your face when you get home. The next time you head out into the woods, bring your friends and show them the places you discovered.

Play Football

Until a few years ago, I knew many families who played football together every autumn. Moms, Dads, kids, and neighbors all got into the game. Now I rarely see any such family games. Just about every household with children has a football, so go out and play.

Make Apple Dolls

I am sure that some of my readers remember making these dolls as children. Carve an apple into the form of a human head and let it dry. If you know how to make doll’s clothes, you can also make clothing for the apple doll. I was never that handy with needle and thread so my friends and I used to simply turn our apple heads into shrunken apple heads and create stories about witch doctors and head hunters, using the shrunken heads as props.

Have a Low Tech Halloween Party

Do you remember bobbing for apples when you were a kid? I do, that was always one of my favorite Halloween party games. There is something about dunking a head into a barrel of water and trying to bite into an apple that is quite appealing to a young boy. Or maybe just to me! There are a great many fun activities for kids that do not require a huge investment of money. (Here’s a great list of additional activities.) In addition to bobbing for apples, it is great fun to plan scavenger hunts, tell ghost stories, or organize any of your favorite childhood activities. If you are at a loss for ideas, I always like to rely on Family Fun magazine for great inexpensive ideas.

Make Leaf Rubbings

You probably did this in art class when you were younger. Perhaps, your kids still do. Go outside and find an attractively shaped leaf. Place it on a piece of white paper with a second piece of paper on top. Gently run the top sheet of paper with a crayon and you will soon have a wonderful image of the leaf that is underneath it. There are a lot of great things that you can do with leaves. Here is a list in case you want to explore some of them.

Visit a Cemetery

If you live in many parts of the USA or even outside of the USA, there may be old cemeteries nearby. They make great places for walks as long as you are mindful that you are walking on consecrated ground and remain respectful of the dead. Children can learn a lot about history by reading gravestones, especially in places like Boston where there are several burial grounds that are the final resting places of our founding fathers (and mothers).

Visit a Working Farm

There are working farms all over America which offer the fruits of their harvest for sale at this time of year. They also offer corn mazes and hayrides and all sorts of other wonderful activities for kids and adults alike.

The autumn does not have to be an expensive time for families as there are so many wonderful ways to stay busy and to have fun! How do you like to enjoy your autumn? What will you be doing for Halloween?

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11 Responses to Fall Fun At Little Cost

  1. Fall can be a wonderful time for family and friends to relax outside. A little summer and a hint of winter make it interesting. And you’re right it doesn’t have to cost a lot.

  2. Ann says:

    Out by me there are apple orchards where you can pick your own apples…. or buy any quantity up to bushels. 🙂 A lot of these places also have apple butter, apple bread, apple pies of all sorts, etc.

    There are haunted houses made up by various clubs where the proceeds go to charity and I know of at least one cornfield maze.

    I remember one wet, cold halloween when I was little where my costume ended up being my brother’s football uniform ’cause I could wear heavy clothes underneath it! LOL In my 20’s, I lived in California and one of our friends was heavily into “the industry”. He had a halloween party every year, but we didn’t have a lot of money, so one year my ex’s costume and mine were tights, a belted tunic and makeup — black and white patterns all over our faces and hands and we made up a story about the planet we came from. It was like being a kid again. LOL

    When I moved back to the Midwest, I was astonished by the fall colors — there really are trees that turn a brilliant maroon and others that glow like polished gold or look like they’re on fire because they’re so red! I still pick up pretty leaves that catch my eye and arrange them in a bowl and make arrangements from branches with orange berries on them and anything else that catches my interest. I picked up (cheap) a clear glass jar that’s perfect for holding oak leaves and acorns with a candle in the middle for fall and pine branches with pinecones for Christmas.

    One year, we ran out of wrapping paper, so I wrapped one gift for my brother in white paper and drew and painted the 12 days of Christmas on it. Now I get a kick out of wrapping some of my gifts in brown paper from grocery bags and stenciling (using a cut out sponge and cheap paint) or drawing things that remind us of Christmas on it for decoration.

    Anyone remember the spooky stuff like peeled grapes in a bowl that were supposed to be eyeballs? LOL

    Yup, great time of year to do things that don’t cost a lot of money!

  3. spicoli says:

    For me, the fall is all about toasted pumpkin seeds!

  4. Sherri says:

    I enjoyed your article. It not only provides good ideas, it brought back wonderful memories.

  5. Bobby says:

    Fall and its accompanying inclement weather means Board Games night with friends. No need to go out and spend money.

  6. Lucy says:

    Make better use of your library. With the nights being longer reading is the most traditional and inexpensive way to enjoy yourself. Libraries are free sources of hours of entertainment.Also you have the InterLibrary loan system which means you are only limited by your imagination and tastes as to which book to enjoy.

  7. Tightwad says:

    David please keep sharing your stories, thoughts, ideas and suggestions.
    I am enjoying your articles because they are so informative and some bring back wonderful memories for this ol’ poop.

  8. persephone says:

    I love to take walks in the early evening during the Fall. It is too hot to do so in the summer and too cold in the winter but from September until the middle of December, I look forward to my evening walk.

  9. Cecil Dellison says:

    Fall, just like other seasons, is not the reason to splurge. We need to be mindful of the fact that emergencies do happen, and an emergency fund is of utter importance unless you want to be overdrawn and struggling to get by, living paycheck to paycheck.

  10. Gail says:

    Although I generally love fall weather we have had the wettest summer on record and are apparently trying for the wettest fall on record also. I can’t remember a day that it hasn’t rained in so long. I am tired of the miserable gray skies. I would love to see the beauty but I think it is getting all rained away.

    I was shocked the other day to see that average spending on Halloween was more than $50 and that is down this year. Things sure have changed!

  11. Susan says:

    This IS a really great time of the year, I enjoyed reading and remembering too.

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